Connie’s Italian Diner

As you walk up the stairs to Connie’s—an extension of Heartbreaker’s hole-in-the-wall pizzeria on Russell Street—there’s a lot to take in, in the best way.

The space was previously a Korean restaurant, and the pastor’s aquarium and lazy Susans are still there. But this is an Italian joint after all: red vinyl is everywhere; tables are draped in red and white checkered tablecloths; and old-fashioned, black-and-white Italian sitcoms are blasted onto the wall.

For owners Zara and Michael Madrusan — who are also behind Bar Margaux, the Everleigh and Heartbreaker downstairs — the original idea was to create a low-key pizzeria that serves “grandma pies.” Then they met Chef Matteo D’Elia, who had worked in Michelin-starred restaurants including Galvin at Windows and Bibendum.

D’Elia’s refined Italian offerings can include charcoal-rolled truffle arancini, a Milanese bone-in rib of veal for two, and pastas that come in full and half portions: tagliolini cacio e pepe, spaghettini alle vongole, and “Bad Nonna’s lasagna.” “. The jewel in the dessert crown is the “tirami-sundae,” a tiramisu soft-serve hybrid.

You can go full famiglia style with a four-person feast of Parker House sandwiches with garlic, the pasta of the day, arugula, and a pitcher of Americano. Or grab a round of granny pies and stuff them on the sides.

The wine list emphasizes Italian drops and Michael pours vintage barolo from his private collection, which you can get by the glass. For quick service, the cocktails come from Madrusan’s very own Everleigh Bottling Co; much of their sparkling range is on tap; and Martinis come straight from the freezer, poured from half-liter bottles.

Connie’s is lit by colorful leadlight pendants, a cluster of disco balls (even in the bathrooms), and a vintage jukebox filled with Motown hits. It opens onto the roof terrace, which overlooks Lonsdale Street and features a mural dedicated to the Italian amaro Cynar.

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